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Servicing & Mechanical

How to Replace Brake Pads

It is important to follow to correct procedure when replacing brake pads

It is of paramount importance that your car is able to stop safely when you want it to and, simply put, a working brake system can mean the difference between life and death. Aside from safety though, a decent, working brake system will also ensure a comfortable driving experience, as well as having a positive effect on your car’s handling. The part of the system that sees the most wear is the brake pads - every time you brake, they wear down a little until eventually they aren’t able to provide enough friction.

How much does it cost to replace brake pads?

The cost of replacing brake pads will vary from vehicle to vehicle, as well as between the front and the rear of the brake system. Most vehicles make use of different sized brake calipers front and rear - with larger brakes in the front. Also, depending on wear, you may need to replace only your front brake pads or both front and rear pads. Always replace brake pads as a pair (left and right sides) to avoid brake imbalances that might compromise your safety.

You can find the right brake pads and parts for your vehicle by using the My Garage tab at the top of this web page. All you need to do is punch in your rego and state or search by make, model and year. Once this is completed you will be suggested the right products to suit/fit your vehicle while searching our site.

Looking to replace rotors? Learn how to replace brake rotors Click Here and bleed your brake system Click Here.

How often should I replace my brake pads?

The interval between brake pad changes will vary greatly depending on a variety of factors:

  • How much you drive
  • The type of driving you do
  • The type of pads you have installed
  • The weight of your vehicle
  • Whether you tow or carry heavy loads
  • And much more.

When you brake, the front brakes will typically exert more force, and are therefore going to wear out faster. You may need to replace between two and three sets of front brake pads before needing to replace your rear brake pads. Always refer to your brake pad manufacturer’s guidelines for recommended service intervals, though ALWAYS replace your pads when they show signs of excessive wear - even if they are still within the expected lifespan.

Brake Pad Replacement

How do I know if my brake pads are worn out?

Many modern cars come equipped with sensors to detect brake wear, however a simple visual inspection is usually sufficient to check when your brake pads are due for replacement. Common signs that let you know when to replace your brake pads are:

  • A metallic squealing, screeching or grinding sound when applying the brakes.
  • Around half a centimetre of pad left on a visual inspection - there are usually indicator lines to help you determine the maximum wear.
  • The presence of an indicator light on your dashboard.
  • A constant metallic grinding or whirring noise during regular driving - this might indicate worn pads or warped rotor surfaces, particularly if it changes when braking.

Can I just replace my brake pads? Do I have to replace rotors at the same time?

Since your pads wear so much faster than the rest of the braking system, it makes sense that you will need to replace them more frequently than anything else. However, the other parts - your rotors and the fluid that operates your brakes - also need to be replaced periodically.

Usually around every 100,000km you might be expected to replace your brake rotors, however having the friction surface machined down to remove any grooves or undulations can and should usually be done before outright replacement is required. As such, it is perfectly acceptable to simply replace your brake pads, provided that you rotors aren’t warped or damaged - though you should take the opportunity to replace your brake fluid as well.

Brake Pad Replacement

How to change brake pads

It is important to follow the correct procedure when replacing brake pads. Visit your local Supercheap Auto store for replacement brake pads before you start.

Tips and Warnings

Remove excess brake fluid from the master cylinder before raising the vehicle – this ensures there is room for fluid to return to the cylinder without overflowing when you push the piston back into the caliper. The brake hose and caliper will require support during the procedure – to do this fasten some wire around the caliper and the hose then secure to a suspension component for additional support.

Step 1 - Remove Brake Fluid

Brake fluid cap

Before you raise the vehicle, you will need to remove some of the brake fluid from the master cylinder to allow for fluid to return into the master cylinder reservoir when you install the new brake pads.

Siphoning brake fluid

Using a siphon, remove enough fluid so that the reservoir level is well below the full mark into an empty container.

Step 2 - Raise The Vehicle And Remove Wheel Assembly

Jacking up car

Raise the vehicle using a high capacity trolley jack to a comfortable working height.

Removing wheels from car

Place jack stands underneath chassis jack stand points and remove the wheel assembly. Refer to user manual to find the correct points to jack and place stands if you're not sure.

Step 3 - Inspect The Brake Assembly

Visual inspection of calipers

  • Check for any signs of fluid leaks or grease leaks around the caliper and rotor.
  • Check for any signs of a cracked or damaged rotor.
  • Inspect the brake lines to see if there are any signs of leakage or deterioration of the flexible hoses.

If there are signs of deterioration these parts will also need to be replaced

Step 4 - Remove The Brake Pads

Caliper unbolting

Loosen and remove the caliper bolts that are bolted to the top and bottom of the caliper. If you wish to remove the caliper completely, remove the caliper bolt that hold it to the hub assembly.

Removing caliper

Ensure that the caliper is not hanging unsupported. To do this, secure and support the caliper by fastening a length of wire around it and attaching it to a suspension component.

Removing brake pads

Remove the worn brake pads from the caliper by pulling them from their guide locations. It’s good practice to have the old rotors replaced or machinced when new pads are to be installed.

Step 5 - Check The Slide Or Locating Pins

Inspect sliding pins

Check the bolts, guides and rubber boots for any signs of wear or damage. With the sliding caliper type, ensure the caliper can slide freely on the runners.

Step 6 - Retract The Piston

Caliper wind back tool

To fit new pads, you will need to retract the caliper piston back into its housing. One of the most common methods is to fit a block of wood and a ‘C’ or ‘G’ clamp over the piston.

Caliper piston spreader

Alternatively you can use a specially designed pad spreader. Tighten the clamp to retract the piston back into the housing. As the piston moves back, it will displace brake fluid back into the master cylinder reservoir.

Pad spreader

Remove the block of wood and clamp after the piston has been retracted.

Step 7 - Install The New Brake Pads

Compare brake pads

Compare the new brake pads to the originals to confirm that they are the correct type. The backing plates should be exactly the same shape.

Position in brake pads

Install the new pads into the caliper. Slide the caliper assembly back into position, and align the mounting or locating pins.

Position caliper

Refer to the manual for the correct procedure and specifications for installing the pins or bolts.

Step 8 - Mount Caliper

Tighting up caliper bolts

Install the pins or bolts and secure them in place. Torque the bolts or retainers to the correct specification.

Step 9 - Check/Remove Brake System Air And Refit Wheels

Topping up brake fluid

Fitting wheel

Using the correct procedure bleed the brakes and refit the wheels.

Learn how to replace and bleed old brake fluid Here